SI Vault
June 11, 2001
Change of OpinionWhen Barry Sanders (above) retired within reach of the NFL rushing record, I felt he was being selfish and letting down both his fans and teammates. I feel that I owe Barry an apology.KENNETH P. LEMIEUX, Warren, Mich.
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June 11, 2001


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Change of Opinion
When Barry Sanders (above) retired within reach of the NFL rushing record, I felt he was being selfish and letting down both his fans and teammates. I feel that I owe Barry an apology.

Disabled Veterans
I'm a huge NFL fan, but after reading William Nack's article, I don't know if I'll enjoy watching it again {The Wrecking Yard, May 7). Knowing what these men are doing to their bodies in the name of entertainment is depressing.

Though I'm saddened by the plight of the former NFLers, I shake my head in wonderment when Chris Washington makes a statement like, "What kind of an example am I setting for kids if I'm walking around with a cane?" Chris, if one starry-eyed high school kid sees you in your current state and decides to head his life in a direction other than pro football, that would be the best example of all.
ED RUDMAN, Rocky Hill, Conn.

I wasn't a pro football player, but I was an elite high school athlete. Now, at age 36, I've had my left hip replaced and the right hip is next. The cause is avascular necrosis (AVN). I hope your younger readers realize the negative physical effects of competitive sports. Those effects aren't reserved for retired pro football players. They happen at all levels.
TODD M. BARUCH, Mesa, Ariz.

I thought Vikings running back Robert Smith was insane for walking away from a potential multiyear contract that might have been worth eight figures. After I read Nack's article, I realized that Smith made the intelligent choice.

I played in the NFL from 1967 to '72 and am experiencing many of the disabilities mentioned in the article: arthritic knees, left hip and spine, and the aftereffects of concussions. It's imperative that our pension and health benefits be significantly increased so players like me, who helped make the NFL into the multibillion-dollar cash cow that it is today, not be forgotten.
TOM BEER, tight end
Denver Broncos, New England Patriots
Mendham, N.J.

My father worked for 35 years in an oil refinery to put his five kids through high school and college. He has two artificial hips and endured numerous back operations, yet I've never heard him complain. Five to 10 years of "work" in the NFL with a fat pension makes it hard for me to feel too sorry for these guys.

It's comforting to learn that sitting on the couch watching NFL football may well be healthier than playing it.
ANDY HECKERT, Oracle, Ariz.

Nothing Like Nostalgia
Steve Rushin outdid himself with The Day the Roundball Died (AIR AND SPACE, May 7). I laughed out loud, made copies for friends and posted it on the fridge.
KATHY MACLACHLAN, Brentwood, Tenn.

Rushin's lyrics summed up my sentiments exactly. These days it's rare to find someone my age—32—who follows the NBA with more than passing interest. By the way, the story appeared in an issue featuring nine pages of playoff coverage, none of which I was interested in reading.
SEAN CURRAN, Westerville, Ohio

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